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Atheroscler Suppl. 2003 Mar;4(1):31-6.

Surrogate markers of atherosclerosis: impact of statins.

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  • 1Department of Vascular Medicine, Academic Medical Centre of Amsterdam, Meibergdreef 9, Room G1-146 1105 AZ, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.


Carotid artery intima-media thickness (IMT) measured by ultrasound has been shown to be correlated with existing cardiovascular disease (CVD) and predictive of CVD in individuals without clinically evident disease. Carotid IMT is now widely used as a surrogate marker for atherosclerotic disease. A number of studies have shown that lipid-lowering therapy with a statin can reduce or reverse carotid IMT progression. The METEOR trial (Measuring Effects on Intima-Media Thickness: an Evaluation Of Rosuvastatin) will examine the effects of aggressive lipid-lowering treatment with rosuvastatin on IMT in mildly hypercholesterolemic low-risk subjects with relatively high IMT values. The results will provide important information on the ability to achieve regression of abnormal IMT with robust reductions in low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels to below current target levels. Another study will examine the effects of potent LDL cholesterol reduction with rosuvastatin in young patients with heterozygous familial hypercholesterolemia (FH). Patients with FH are at increased risk of premature coronary heart disease in association with marked LDL cholesterol elevations, exhibiting a rate of progression of IMT 5x greater than that of low-risk controls without the disorder and early intervention may be the optimal approach to modifying atherosclerosis progression in these patients.

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